The Sandcastle – Withernsea, England - Atlas Obscura

The Sandcastle

Withernsea, England

This two-towered gateway is all that remains of the unluckiest pier in the world. 


Locally known as “the Sandcastle” and looking strangely out of place, a pair of ornate crenelated towers are all that remains of the ill-fated pier that once served the East Yorkshire town of Withernsea.

Withernsea, like many British seaside towns, once had a very nice pier attraction at the local beach. It opened to the public in the summer of 1878, charging one penny for admission. Constructed of ornate iron girders, the pier stretched 1,196 feet from the beach out to sea. At the entrance was the large, castle-like gateway arch that stands today. Unfortunately, this was probably the unluckiest pier in the world.

The life of Withernsea Pier was to be very short, if very eventful. Just two years after it opened, the structure suffered serious damage when, during a great storm, the coal barge Saffron collided with the pier and punched a 200-foot hole through the middle. Another boat badly damaged the end of the pier.

Many other vessels collided with the pier over the next few years. Notably, in 1890, it was hit by the fishing boat Genesta, destroying more than half the pier. In 1893 it was hit by the Henry Parr bound for Grimsby. After that collision, there were only 50 feet remaining of this once-magnificent pier. What was left was deemed unsafe, and the last remains of the pier, all except for the entrance arch, were removed by 1905.

All that remains today are these two towers, which currently lead to a set of steps to the beach. However a crowd-funding campaign is underway to rebuild at least part of the structure.

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March 23, 2018

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